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Beale’s boost to quarantine & biosecurity much-needed: NFF

18 December 2008

“AUSTRALIA’S pest and disease free status is vital for our farming sector – both in production and marketing terms – and we support the broad thrust of the Report,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said following the Australian Government’s response to the Beale Quarantine and Biosecurity Review today.

“Fundamental to our favourable international position is a beefed up, efficient and science-based quarantine and biosecurity regime. Confidence in these systems has been rocked by the breakdown that led to the equine influenza outbreak.

“Our submission highlighted failures in proactively protecting Australia’s shores from pests and diseases. For example, it has emerged that technical capacity across the entire system has eroded over time, placing border detection and protection under extreme duress.

“Transparent, science-based quarantine and biosecurity measures to protect Australia’s environment, biodiversity and agricultural systems assume even greater importance in this modern era of global movement of people, animals and goods. Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity effort simply hasn’t kept pace with modern demands and will come under even more pressure.

“Beale recognises a vigilant national quarantine and biosecurity system in this country is a must. But, in addition to a more robust system, we need more effective links between the various government agencies, at both the federal and state/territory levels, as well as closer consultative arrangements with industry.

“That means a seamless continuum between the currently disjointed ‘pre-border’ arrangements (now managed by Biosecurity Australia), ‘at border’ arrangements (now managed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) and ‘post-border’ arrangements (now managed by states) is essential.

“We also focused on building on valuable and insightful consultation between industry and quarantine authorities. Over the past decade, through the involvement of organisations such as Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia, industry has proven to be a constructive partner – contributing to sensible policy development, investment in animal and plant health systems and advancing effective, efficient and practical measures at the quarantine coalface.

“The Government has responded positively to the Beale Review, supporting its recommendations. It will now fall to the Government to ensure funding is available under the 2009 and subsequent Federal Budgets to effect the necessary changes on the ground.

“It is also essential that the Government and Department of Agriculture consult closely with industry sectors during the implementation of the recommendations to ensure the changes, considered essential by the NFF and the Review Committee, are practical and workable.

“In the meantime, the recommendation to remove the 40% cost recovery arrangement is a concern and the NFF will consult our members to assess the likely impact.”

[ENDS]

The NFF’s submission to the Beale Review is available at: Submissions to Government

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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